Airports Council International (ACI) World has called for improved coordination among industry stakeholders to increase capacity in the Asia-Pacific Region, home to some of the fastest growing economies and aviation markets.
Speaking at the 56th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation, Asia and Pacific Region, ACI director general, Angela Gittens addressed three necessary pillars of improving capacity.
These she said were using what we have efficiently, protecting the use of what we have, and developing more when necessary. Gittens also underlined their importance to safeguarding the socio-economic benefits that aviation provides to the region at large.
“We need to ensure that aviation continues to generate socio-economic benefits to communities and countries, many of which are small island developing states (SIDS) challenged by small population, limited human capital, confined land area and higher debt levels,” Gittens said.
Under the umbrella of efficiency, Gittens said: “While the new governance structure for the Worldwide Slot Guidelines, and the new aerodrome standards are milestones in the right direction, airport stakeholders need to increase their harmonized efforts when it comes to seamless connectivity and NEXTT can help.”
ACI and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have been developing NEXTT, or New Experience Travel Technologies, which pulls together the work that is being done in our security, airport operations, passenger and cargo facilitation teams, on biometrics, autonomous vehicles and digital transformation.
The NEXTT vision looks at the complete ground journey for all the elements that currently move through the airport – the passenger, baggage, cargo and the aircraft. It seeks to ensure that stakeholders have a common direction, and that all projects benefit to maximise interoperability with others.
Addressing the protection of infrastructure, Gittens emphasised it was crucial that airports both prepared to deal with the effects of climate change on their operations while also actively working to address, reduce and mitigate the impact of airport operations on the environment.
On building new infrastructure, Gittens told delegates of the capital gap for constructing new infrastructure and proposed possible solutions to financing such large-scale projects.
“Airports’ capital needs are high: based on a sample of 50 major economies, we’re looking at required five-year investments of US$433 billion versus US$355 billion in planned airport investment, a shortfall of US$78 billion,” she said.
Gittens added: “ACI does not advocate for any specific ownership structure but we have seen that private capital has been shown to be successful means of funding infrastructure development in the face of the growing demand for air service, the value of that air service for a community’s or country’s economic vitality, and the competing needs for government funds where financial resources are lacking.”
“And, economic regulation, if needed, should be proportionate to the objectives set by the government owner, including the incentives to facilitate commercial agreements between airports and their customers.”
Gittens concluded by reminding delegates of the importance of investing in workforce capacity and noted the projected expansion of the aviation sector in the region requires “giving attention” to the recruitment and training of the necessary talent that will “run this engine”.